Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Full Circle

I wrote my college admission essay about the movie Center Stage. My favorite dance scene was the one at jazz class where they danced to “Higher Ground,” choreographed by the legendary Susan Stroman. I must have watched Center Stage at least monthly my senior year of high school. We even did a Pointe piece that year to “Canned Heat,” complete with red, glittery pointe shoes. Around this time, my mom took me to Lincoln Center to see Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel in Gisele. I was so inspired to work my butt off to succeed as a performer. 

Fast forward to 2015...This was the year that I auditioned for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Susan Stroman selected me to perform her choreography in The Merry Widow. I will never forget the day I found out and one of my greatest dreams was realized. In 2017, I had the opportunity to work with her again on The Merry Widow at The Metropolitan Opera. This week, I get to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film by taking class from Stro and learning some of the choreo. I am so excited!

I am forever grateful for Center Stage, which inspired me to reach for the stars even when they felt too far away. I am also very appreciative of those who have given me training, knowledge, or opportunities to shine. I have found my place and friends amongst the dance community just like the stars of the movie did. I get to say that my childhood dreams came true. Never never never give up and please support the arts! This isn’t just a hobby or career to us. It’s life. Can't wait to dance the shit out of it! #strogirl 

With the amazing Susan Stroman at The Merry Widow
Opening Night Party- Lyric Opera of Chicago 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

National Dance Day: Missing Those Center Stage Moments

Every day is a dance day, but today is National Dance Day! It looks a bit different this year, but I was able to take class online with my favorite NYC teacher. I also looked at old pictures and reflected on the opportunities that were awarded to me from choosing a career in dance and training hard. I know that some days it feels painful to think about dancing knowing there aren't auditions or contracts available. Dance anyway. Dance it all out. It never fails to make me feel much better. 

I wrote my college admissions essays on the movie, Center Stage and how it impacted my life. Growing up, I was never the best or the favorite, but I certainly had the passion and work ethic to get there. Jody Sawyer spoke to me. She made a place for herself in the dance world and I was going to do the same. One of the movie's choreographers was Susan Stroman; someone who would later transform my career. I watched it pretty much weekly leading up to college dance auditions. I also went to see stars of the movie, Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel perform Gisele together at Lincoln center around the same time. Little did I know that 8 years later I would be chosen by Stro to dance her choreo at Lyric Opera of Chicago in The Merry Widow. And two years after that, I would be performing it again at Lincoln center.  I may not (yet) have achieved what I thought was my ultimate goal of becoming a Rockette (although made it through and waited by my phone for a job call 7 torturous times), but my dance career literally came full circle. 

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a performer. There was nothing else. I was going to make it happen. And I did. You can too. Always chase your dreams and give them all you’ve got. You have one life and once we are beyond this major setback, please go for it! It may not look the way you imagined it, but I promise it will be worth your efforts. This year has made it even more evident that we only have a short time on this planet and it could end at any time. Live a life you're proud of. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


New York is NOT over. Theatre is NOT over. People are resilient. Artists are too strong and resourceful to let this kill our industry. Everyone consumes art. Many are quick to forget that you need artists to create it. Art comes in various forms. I guarantee most if not all quarantined humans utilized some form of art during this time and every day after. We NEED leaders who are supportive of this important source of inspiration, therapy, happiness, and money. 

New York is a dream. Being there doesn't feel real. I remember every first cab ride back in the city and every last day there. Theatre is the heart of NYC and generates SO MUCH MONEY. It has given me a sense of hope and brings me to tears the second the orchestra starts to play. We need hope. You can't tell me that certain governors are responsible for its downfall because cities with different leadership are suffering in the art department too. It is affecting my ability to perform as well and I am in the South. Gyms have opened, sports have started, and yet we can't have a performance season!? There needs to be change. 

I'm having a hard time understanding why theatre is screwed over. What makes this different? Sweating and sharing germs in a hot box of a gym, but not allowing a spaced out performance? I am not comprehending that logic. And don't get me started on schools. If this isn't going to happen, PUA certainly needs to be extended for those who rely solely on this income. This is a career that so many have put a lifetime of training into. It is not a hobby. Just ask an artist how expensive their training has been and will continue to be. 

I've alternated between performing full time, performing part time while working full time at another job and back again. We always seem to find our way back to what we are best at. Pivoting is definitely okay, but not everyone has the opportunity to pursue something else. It isn't realistic to tell people to just get another job. I know everyone seems to be saying the city is done and everyone is moving out. Yes, there are some heading elsewhere, but the people I know intend to be back the second our industry recovers. I also have many friends who are choosing to stay. 

If there is a show you watch constantly, if you go out dancing or consume video content, if you read magazines or listen to music, don't forget you NEED artists for this. Continue supporting these things and be vocal in your support if you can't imagine a world without this industry of hope, escape, and happiness. It is essential. 

Times are hard, but if you are at all able to, purchase a dance class with a favorite teacher or at a studio that is holding online classes like Steps on Broadway or Broadway Dance Center; consider donating the price of your canceled ticket to the theatre or venue; purchase a ticket for an online performance; buy art directly from an artist; or even just check in with a friend who has had their world turned upside down. 

This post may have not been the most organized, but I have a lot of thoughts lately. I am tired of being pissed off. Stop politicizing a virus. It is real. Just ask my family, or Nick Cordero's family, or several of my YOUNG friends who had it. Regardless of whether or not you have bad symptoms or die from it, who actually wants a virus in their system?? And who wants to be responsible for unknowingly giving it to someone who does die? Wear a mask for your family. Wear a mask for the arts. Wear a mask to be part of the solution, not the problem. Let's end this thing. You aren't oppressed in doing so and you don't know someone else's struggle. Just. Be. Nice. Assist in bettering the world. Stop spreading hate and ugliness. 

Here are some additional resources: https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/financial-relief-resources-for-artists-during-covid-19

Do what you love while you can <3 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Beveling Bride

 Hi friends! It has been way too long. I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. My heart breaks for the world right now. I'm grateful that we had something positive happen during this time. We are ENGAGED!! I can't wait to spend my life with my forever dance partner. He makes me excited for a future filled with adventure, love, and happiness. My heart goes out to all of the brides who had to postpone or cancel their weddings. I was nervous about wedding planning with all of the uncertainty, but we need something to look forward to. I have booked a lot for ours already. It was definitely stressful trying to make the right choices. I think DJ was the hardest part, because that really sets the tone for the entire day! We still have over a year to go, but it will be nice to put focus on having fun and the little details now. 

It's a weird thing not knowing the next time you'll be onstage (or back to work) again. We spend so much time training with particular goals in mind. Most of those have disappeared without return dates. I think that with any future opportunity to perform I will appreciate it so much more and take in the moment as much as possible. Prior to 2019, I was a gypsy soul, living out of a suitcase and moving on when things got too comfortable. After moving to Florida and meeting my love, I don't feel like I'm giving up on my dreams by being in one place. He lifts me up and supports my goals and we are creating our own. I am so excited to see what is in store for us and what we will work hard to achieve together. He has a long road ahead of him still with school, but I think our wedding falls at the perfect time. It will be during his last year of classes, before the craziness of prepping to take the bar and starting a new job. 

We got engaged in June on the most perfect beach day. It was our first beach day since Covid began. It was just the two of us, swimming and having fun. We decided to play the question game (my fav) and I said we should have another beer (obvi). He said he had something better and reached into the cooler. I thought he meant some other drink. He started saying all of these sweet things and that he had one more question. Before I knew it, he was on one knee in the sand with the shiniest ring : ) He asked me to marry him and of course I said yes! (Actually I said of course...haha) Then we had some champagne before celebrating with our parents. 

I was quick to get started with planning with it being a destination wedding for most, the uncertainty of the pandemic, and my love going back to school. In the last two months, I've gotten most of the big parts of planning out of the way (venue, engagement shoot, save the dates, room blocks, photography, videography, catering, cake, asking bridesmaids, website, and music!) I have performed at many events and have loved experiencing this side of them and seeing my vision start to come together. We were able to do our cake tasting at home and had so much fun with that. We tried 3 amazing flavors and are having a great local bakery recreate my Pinterest dream cake. We will likely do our menu tasting when this semester ends. 

I hope a lot of our friends and family will be able to attend. As a performer, you make amazing friends with every contract, but they live all over the world. I understand how difficult it is to commit to something like this when a contract could pop up at any time. I've missed weddings, school dances, funerals, etc. for work. The vibe I hope to achieve for our day is romantic and warm. I want to be surrounded by our closest family and friends and have so much fun. I'm looking forward to incorporating my dance life a little bit with custom La Duca's (fingers crossed) and a first dance choreographed by me. 

The following pics are from our engagement shoot. Whitney Coogan is a wonderful local photographer who does an amazing job of creating a romantic, fairy-tale dream world with her work. I knew she was the right photographer for the vision we were going for and I can't wait to put some of these on canvas. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dance Therapy

We all have different ways of coping with difficult times. Some people can't stand learning off of a computer screen and deal with their feelings in other totally valid ways. I wake up every day lately feeling deep sadness. I can't help but check the news. I can't help but feel heartbroken when the suffering hits closer and closer to home. I don't feel like moving when I wake up and lately I find myself in bed until almost 11am. Regardless, I make myself get up, put on a little bit of a face, and move. 

I am thankful that my dance studio is giving barre, the Rockettes are teaching their style, NFL teams are posting prep classes, La Duca is offering multiple classes per week, and my fav NY teacher is giving class. I was supposed to be in NYC right now and would be running around trying to make it to a bunch of classes anyway. The opportunity to work on my technique, mind, and body in my own apartment is too good to pass up. 

For someone who has worked in a non-dance position for a year, these classes are giving me a chance to return to my self. I feel like me again. I miss feeling like part of the industry. Seeing friends in Zoom classes and reuniting through movement has made me feel more connected. Since I'm not always in New York anymore, I often take dance and fitness classes online. Right now, it is even more of a privilege to be able to take live class from my favorite teachers. The only thing that has truly improved my mood when I'm down throughout my life has been to dance on my own or take class. 

The Metropolitan Opera has been streaming shows on their website. Watch here. They just put up "Merry Widow", which is the show I did there and also at Lyric Opera of Chicago. It was the highlight of my career so far. While watching, I realized how much my heart breaks for theatre. Dancing, singing and viewing performances bring so much joy and also serve as an escape from reality. The arts are so important right now. The theatre community is so strong. What better way to at least temporarily be transported to another world than through theatre or dance? We will get through this together. 

Special thank you to essential workers for keeping us safe during this crazy time and always. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keep Dancing

Where would I be without the arts? Where would any of us be? With so much going on in the world and after being laid off, I have been dancing the days away. I am kind of in denial about the whole thing. Dancing and music have given me so much joy and stress relief in the past 11 days I've been without a schedule. My favorite bands have put on concerts from their homes, countless artists have been giving class, and there are so many great shows to binge at the moment. I've had the opportunity to reconnect with the dance community and learn from teachers around the world. Right now it feels like nothing will ever be the same. I worry about having a job in any of the fields that I've trained so hard in. I know that I'm not alone in this. 

Personal favorites at the moment: 
Naples Academy of Ballet 
La Duca Shoes
Yoga Labs
Pop Tap 
The Fitness Marshall
Tiler Peck

Short term quarantine goals: 

  • Read a book
  • Organize and deep clean my apartment
  • Be active every day (do at least one class or video)
  • To make it through the rest of my lease and still have some $ in my account
  • Connect with friends and fam (Facetime)

Lastly, please stay home. Several friends have come down with the virus. It doesn't discriminate. It is all happening so quickly too. Within the last 2 weeks, my boyfriend arrived home to visit thinking he was leaving for The Keys for spring break. Within days, things were shutting down there and his law school decided to go online. I lost my job and every restaurant and public beach shut down days after that. Life can change in an instant. I know there are people with greater problems than that though. My prayers go out to anyone in an essential job right now and anyone feeling alone. My hope is that we learn to appreciate Earth and each other. Joy and meaning can come from the most basic things. Stay strong, friends. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Back To Me.

I just turned a certain age and have really been reflecting on what I've learned in my life:

  • Don’t ever give up your dream if you can afford to stick it out. Your dreams may evolve a bit, but if there is something in your heart that makes you come alive, fight for it even when things are hard. Everyone says that, but I’ve experienced it. I always feel on top of the world doing what I know I was meant to and like something is missing when I am not. 
  • Everything really does happen the way it’s supposed to and for a reason. There are so many things that I have questioned in the beginning and come to find that they were perfectly meant to be. If I hadn’t moved back to Naples and taken a non-performing job, I never would have met the love of my life; if I hadn’t chosen to pass up a certain opportunity, I never would have danced at The Met; if I hadn’t worked on ships, I wouldn’t ever have seen amazing places like Antarctica, etc. I've been hesitant about things in the beginning and they ended up changing my life for the better. Trust your gut and know you’ll always end up where you belong.
  • Age is just a number. On my first contract out of college, our cast ranged in age from 22-50. We were doing the same shows, living the same lifestyle and never really thought much of the age gap because it didn’t matter. It’s a state of mind. My dancing improved way beyond college and will hopefully continue to. You learn more with each contract and carry that experience into the next. 
  • You can start over. I’ve met plenty of performers who started later or returned to it after having families or taking a break or doing a different job entirely. If you want to leave the industry, that is possible too. I feel that skills learned performing and traveling are invaluable and translate to other jobs as well. You can always do something else. Just be sure you’re doing what is best for you. You only get one chance at this life.
  • Work to live don’t live to work. Seriously.
  • If something doesn't feel right or if you know you're worth more, trust yourself and don't do it. 
  • Be nice to everyone. You really don't know what people are going through. It doesn't matter what your job is, where you're from or how much money you have.   
  • Take care of yourself. I didn’t know what this meant until I was in the ER on my 19th birthday with mono and horrible tendinitis in my hip. That was a low point, but I stopped staying out late and waking up early to make it to a 6 hour dance day and started taking care of my instrument.

The truth is... I miss performing. I miss waking up in a different place every day. I miss being in the industry. I miss class. I miss being around people with the same passion. I don't think anything can bring that level of excitement. I can very much still dance. I feel like I'm living a double life. Once a dancer always a dancer.

On that note, I really need to get back to myself and what makes me happy. I honestly haven't had a good dance session in months. I need to start doing things that make me happy, because right now I'm not making the most of life and it is too damn short for that. I really don't have a schedule that allows me to have time for it. So for now I guess it will be a yoga membership and training myself until I can do more. 

One thing I was able to make time for was a photoshoot. I recently shot with Luminaire Foto in Naples. He made me feel so comfortable and confident that I was doing crazy dance poses on the floor by the end of the shoot. Can't wait to see all of the images. He truly has a gift of bringing you out of your comfort zone and working with you to find your best angles and looks.